Thursday, April 28, 2011

What? This is NOT the world's largest rooftop solar system?  Well, it's definitely the prettiest.
We're in New Jersey (Motto: "Second only to California in solar capacity.")  The casinos in Atlantic City are over the top--and so are the solar arrays. Really. The world's largest rooftop solar system was just installed here.

Before we left Cape May on Monday, we stopped at a marina for a pump-out.  The dockmaster, Bob, scratched his head over our solar propulsion system.  "I've got solar panels on my house," he said. "Never seen them used to run a boat!"

Bob told us he has three kids . . . and 24 solar panels to keep them powered.  And here's the thing: It wasn't necessarily a commitment to going green that made him pop the panels on the roof. "My accountant told me to do it," he said.  "New Jersey has lots of support for solar right now.  It just made sense."
Atlantic City has a field of wind turbines
within spittin' distance of Trump's three casinos.
The power they generate operates the wastewater plant.

Bob figures his system would have cost more than 32K without the state subsidies.  He paid half that.  The power his family doesn't use feeds into the grid.  He says, he figures he's making $3,500 a year. "That's a pretty good time frame to recover your investment!" he said. 

New Jersey aims to have 30 percent of its electricity generated by renewable sources by 2020.  Excellent goal  Not everyone is crazy about the consequences.

Today's New York Times includes a story about the town of Fair Lawn, where the utility company chose not to set up a "solar farm," with a bunch of panels all in one place, but instead is creating a diffuse installation, by putting individual solar panels on streetlight poles.  Town residents are saying, "Man, that looks ugly!"

Now, surely some clever designer can think of a way make this kind of project practical AND artistic? Create solar installations that suburbanites are proud to have in their front yards? We need a design challenge.  How about a reality TV show?  I'm drafting the Captain now as the first contestent.

1 comment:

  1. Hi CB. Our county in NJ (Mercer) has solar panels on utility poles also (they double as light poles). We do hear some people complain that they look ugly, but to tell the truth, the poles and wires were ugly before the panels also. Maybe they can install the panels to look like tree branches, like they do with cell towers? (like http://www.panoramio.com/photo/3607617